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Sep 27, 2011

Separation Of Shul And State

An old debate was recently again brought forward. The other day Rav Yoshiyahu Pinto mentioned he thinks it is necessary to separate religion from the State. Then yesterday a professor of Mishpat Ivri (a legal system based on the Judaic system), who is supposedly close with Rav Elyashiv, said on the radio that he knows that if the issue were to be raised for serious discussion Rav Elyashiv would support the separation of shul and State.

The issue of Separation of Shul And State has been debated for years, with logical arguments being presented by both sides. In the past the haredi MKs have never supported it.

I would suggest that such a proposal, if it were to ever be seriously raised as an agenda to be considered, would never win the support of the haredi community. Despite the benefits to Judaism in general, the haredi community would be the hardest hit of such a proposal, mostly in the economic sphere. Suddenly, the government would not be allowed to fund religious education, the government would not allocate plots of land for shuls, mikvas, schools and other religious institutions. The government would not fund kollels and yeshivas. I assume there would not be any state controlled kashrut organizations.

Because of all that, suddenly all the religious schools would suddenly become completely private, requiring expensive tuition and building funds. Shul membership would increase, as the communities would have to buy plots of land and cover other expenses that currently are covered by the government. Jobs would be lost in the sense of no more masgichim or chief rabbis as employees of the State, along with a whole slew of other clerks and positions involved in religious affairs offices.

Haredi support, really all religious support but I think it is more of a problem by haredi, for such a proposal of separation of Shul and State would be like biting your own tail. I also am not sure how, in what way, our flavor of being a Jewish State would be defined or in what way it would manifest itself, if the State could not be involved at all in religion.

But it would do so much good for Judaism in general...


  1. Rafi

    a cutoff of money for yeshivot is a big lav dafka. it depends which model of seperation is used. only the US prohibits state support for churches (or shuls in your post). many european countries support religious institutions. spain has it down to a science how they make their calculations of how much the Church (large C) gets.

    some european countries also limit which branch of judaism they recognize.

    what none of these countries allow is the church/shul to determine personal status or determine who one can marry. italy has divorce. ironically, catholics cannot get a divorce only in israel.

    i don't know if all european countries but certainly many have a chief rabbi.

    a seperation (or more accurately lessening) of the connection between shul and state could entail a whole bunch of things, like getting rid of the rabbinate kashrut supervision and turning it over to private hekshers, allowing civil marriage etc. but even in this scenario yeshivot could still receive money.

  2. hmmm, so they still would not support it because it would mean, even if only, giving up the monopoly on authority over marriage, who is a jew, conversion, death, etc..

    the haredim have the most to lose by this, even if not economically (though I dont see why they would keep the funding in place and only remove the personal issue)

  3. Rafi,

    I used to be a big fan of this blog but in the past few months you have gone the way of Haaretz/Ynet criticizing Charedim in any way possible whether it is directly or in a backhanded way. Although I am not Charedi, I do feel that its unnecessary and before Rosh Hashana would like to mention how much it bothers me.

  4. Does that mean that we will see no more postings by "anonymous" on Rafi's blog? :)

    That would remove a lot of confusion!

    Shanah Tovah to all.


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